Joanna Helcke Video


Katy is Mum of the Month - Congratulations

Hi Katy! First of all, congratulations on being Mum-of-the-Month!

You’re a mum of two – tell me a little more!


I have two sons, Alex and Cameron who are 6 and 4 years old respectively. They are currently in Year 1 and preschool.  Alex is very energetic and chatty, always on the go, always creating something. Cameron is an explorer, loves to watch the birds in the garden, takes ages on any walk studying snails, slugs, spiders etc and playing with sticks!

Up until August last year, I was at home with them as a housewife, having left fulltime employment when I had Alex. In August I started up a consultancy business with my husband, Darren.  I am still at home for the boys but pretty busy with the company too which is a very nice balance.  I do appreciate the complexity of working mums’ lives even more now - I have it relatively easy, no commute and very flexible hours!

What aspects of motherhood do you most enjoy?

The cuddles, the energy, the chat, seeing life through their eyes, watching them do what they love (creating art, creating a mess, quietly concentrating, noisily playing, singing and dancing!). Seeing what they are capable of – Alex really loves creative stuff, he is always telling stories, writing, drawing and making. Cam is a different character, he can sit and colour in, or practice his letters, but he’s always very observant & has a great sense of humour! He appears quieter than his brother but working together they are slick problem solvers – ie. mostly getting themselves into mischief!!


 And the not-such-fun bits?

Without a doubt, it’s the fighting! When I see them being mean to each other, it just upsets and frustrates me. I’m hoping they grow out of it but I reckon it’ll just evolve!


What’s your favourite gadget in motherhood, the one you can’t live without?

A music system – the boys enjoy a dance if we’re at home and a sing-a-long in the car if we’re out and about. They have quite retro taste, AC/DC is a favourite, as are The Who, Human League, The Police and The Killers!

You are really into fitness yet you are up against some really big challenges. Tell me first what your fitness loves are?

I’ve always enjoyed swimming, I learned front crawl in my twenties and once I’d achieved that, I always pushed myself to go faster. I took up running in my early thirties and loved the buzz it gave me. Taking part in running events (10km distance) was always my focus.  Eventually I combined these with a gym regime and cycling and ended up participating in several sprint triathlons when we lived in Australia – swimming in the open water was amazing!  I also enjoyed hillwalking and trekking – although I admit to being a slightly fair-weather walker. I was never very patient in bad weather but on a good day, the view from the top of a mountain, wherever you are in the world, is worth every bit of exertion! And, with trekking, you get to slow down and explore countryside away from the towns and traffic, some walks I’ve done in the UK include the West Highland Way, part of the South West coastal path and the Cumbrian Way.


And what about the barriers you are currently dealing with? Please could you share your story with us all?

While I was in Australia and training, I was aware that my knee really hurt and, suspecting referred pain, I went to the podiatrist as I suffer over-pronation. She prescribed orthotics but during her assessment she watched me running and called her physio colleague over, they both studied my gait with amazed faces - & not in a good way!? An x-ray followed and a diagnosis of hypermobility with hip dysplasia (shallow hip sockets). They suggested that I reduce my distance to 5km to minimise the impact on my congenitally defective hip joints. Thus the sprint triathlons – I found that I was faster in 5km events but the race was over so quickly, I needed a new challenge.

Back in the UK and 6 months after having Alex, I was back running.  I was very slow and ached a lot around my pelvis but I figured that’s what pregnancy, poor posture & too many cakes would do! Then 6 months after I had Cameron, I was again back training. This time, it was more intense. I was actively losing weight and, with a combination of diet and running, I shed 2 stone in 3 months.

But, even though I was the lightest I had ever been as an adult, I could not get any faster. My cardio was fab but my right leg just wouldn’t move through without extra effort and no amount of stretching got rid of the stiffness afterwards. I thought I should give my hips a check up again and was referred to a specialist. The consultant said he thought it was inflammation and not to worry so they conducted an MRI just to make sure. I was summoned back and he told me that actually it wasn’t inflammation, it was osteoarthritis and I would need a hip replacement within 5 years. Oh and no more running!

I was stunned. It was just a bit aching & stiff, surely physiotherapy could fix this? I decided, reluctantly, to follow the advice re running and continued on with life. My symptoms were mild and manageable. Fast forward one year - around the time of Christmas, New Year and turning 40 - there were a few parties, much dancing and good times. Somewhere in the midst of that melee, my hip decided to make itself and its deteriorating arthritic state very much felt…

I eventually hobbled to another hip specialist in February 2014. He told me “the good news is you don’t need a new hip immediately”, however he re-calibrated the time left to 18months/ 2 years maximum.

After physiotherapy gave me back some mobility, I carried on. I joined Jo’s excellent Pilates class in 2015 to help my posture cope with the degenerative changes that were clearly happening. Soon after, I was back at the hospital to receive a steroid injection for pain relief. It was sheer bliss for around 6 weeks, no pain, no restriction. I literally felt 10 years younger! Unfortunately, when it faded - and the pain and stiffness returned - I’d seen the life that I wanted. It felt like the time for change was approaching. I saw my consultant again late last year and he started a discussion about surgery.


Also, you have some really very exciting – but at the same time scary – news. Do tell us!

All being well, I’m ‘going bionic’ on Tuesday 26th January – I will receive a total hip replacement (THR) of my right hip. It’s a surprisingly brief operation, will probably only take an hour or so. But it involves removing the top of my femur (the ball), ‘filing down’ the arthritic elements in the pelvic socket and inserting metal/polycarbonate and ceramic components to give me the hip joint action as it should be! So my skeleton will be discontinued at a small point and replaced with metal – it’s been a good exercise in teaching my sons about the human body and also about the importance of good healthcare in fixing a problem. I think they’ll be a bit confused as to why mummy’s gone to hospital limping and come back on crutches unable to bend but I hope that I’ve shared enough with them to help them understand it’s a positive, though slightly lengthy, healing process. They are getting their heads around it and planning how to help mummy after her operation. Meanwhile they’re loving the very large boxes that have brought the hip recovery house furniture!!

I’d like to honestly say that what is absolutely amazing about you is your incredible positivity and great sense of humour despite living with pain. How do you keep your mind in such a good place? What’s the secret?   

Having a fab positive little family around me to help me keep perspective and support me! Also, friends and family that take the time to listen when I need them to, help when I ask them or don’t judge when I’m having a ‘down’ day. And it’s not always very painful, just restrictive. With my work being entirely home-based at present, I am very lucky that I have been able to adapt my life around those restrictions and that Darren & the boys are so supportive. But they are definitely core to the decision for a THR soon rather than later.  The situation is life-changing but in a good way as I’m investing to regain my quality of life. I consider myself pretty fortunate – just now this is all that affects me and it’s mendable.

So this week is a hugely important week for you. After the hip replacement what are your goals and plans?

Due to the advice of some lovely people (fellow young ‘hippies’ and those medically in the know) giving their time to me for guidance, I will be just aiming to walk effectively and evenly with crutches and not dislocate the joint in the first 6 weeks. If progressing well, I will increase my walking and add some swimming and physio 6 to 12 weeks. Then, after that, I’m hopeful for a (gentle!) return to Pilates.

After 6 months, my consultant assures me that, if all goes to plan, it will be an ‘invisible’ hip, ie. I won’t have to think about it! Always in my mind is the idea of being able to do things like tie a shoelace or put a sock on without it being a protracted process. The thought of walking a couple of miles without pain is just amazing too! I’ll be able to go to the park with the kids, keep up with them and not hobble home to rest my leg! I’m hopeful too of going cycling with them for the first time; walking up a big hill and maybe a mountain eventually…

My goal is also to take control of my diet again; I have to ‘feed myself well’ post-op (well Darren will, he’s a great cook!) and then try to continue keeping the menus healthy for getting fit again.

Are you aiming to get back into triathlons one day?

Ha! I wish! I’m very wistful for those days but due to my dysplasia in both hips, it would be too risky to run again. I would love to get back into open water swimming, I’ve never participated in an open water event in this country. It’s definitely a goal to lose this pre-op weight & fit back into my wetsuit!

Last but most certainly not least, I’d like to send a huge huge GOOD LUCK from all of us in Monday evening Pilates4All. Here’s to wishing you a journey with a truly liberating outcome. I can’t wait to welcome you back xxx



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